Jonas Valanciunas had himself a pretty good summer. There was a dominant MVP-winning NBA Summer League performance for the Raptors in Las Vegas. Some solid warmup games for Lithuania where he flexed his offensive muscles along with a far more chiseled frame compared to his rookie NBA season and finally he helped Lithuania win a silver medal at the prestigious FIBA EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia. The Raptors and Valanciunas have much to be pleased about heading into the seven-footer’s second season but there is still considerable work to be done before Valanciunas takes his expected place as an East all-star one day. Valanciunas looked great at times in Lithuania’s exhibitions combining for 46 points on 15-for-18 shooting in one three-game stretch. Still despite the achievements it wasn’t a perfect off-season for Valanciunas. He was used somewhat sparingly by the veteran-laden squad and had some stumbles once the EuroBasket actually got underway. Valanciunas averaged 6.5 points 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks (4th-best in the tournament) in just 16.5 minutes shooting 65.9% from the field with a tourney-leading three double-doubles. Simonas Baranauskas who quite correctly bills himself: ‘Your go-to guy when it comes to Lithuanian hoops’ on his Twitter bio (@LithuaniaBasket) studiously watched all of Lithuania’s games this summer and in an e-mail exchange from Vilnius Lt. took the time to fill the Sun in on how Toronto’s most prized building block fared. According to Baranauskas there were a few reasons why Valanciunas’ minutes were limited. Head coach Jonas Kazlauskas had five players over 6-foot-11 to choose from and preferred the experience and floor-stretching outside shooting touch of 33-year-old Darjus Lavrinovic.
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Toronto Sun | Sep 29